As this blog has mentioned previously, sometimes California law affords broader protections to San Diego employees than does the federal law. Such is the case when it comes to giving employees regular breaks and time to take their meais.
Under California law, hourly employees must get a 10 minute paid break for every 4 hours they work if they work 3 hours 45 minutes or more on a given day. The obligation to provide a paid break also applies to a major fraction of every 4 hours worked, with major fraction being 2 hours. So, a worker who is on due for 6 hours has a right to 2 paid breaks.
Additionally, an employer also has to give 30 minutes for an employee to take a meal for every 5 hours the employee works. This meal break need not be paid, but if it is not going to be paid, the employer must make absolutely sure the worker is free to take his or her meal without having to continue working in any respect.
The penalties for violating these rules are significant, as the state of California has an interest in protecting the rights of workers. However, it is important for employees in this state to remember that an employer only has to offer a break and do so consistent with the requirements of state law. If an employee does not take his or her boss up on the offer, he or she cannot later turn around and sue.
Employees who are paid hourly and are thus non-exempt have legal options under California’s wage and hour law if they are not denied breaks. An employee who feels he or she has not been given appropriate breaks should consider speaking with an employment law attorney.